Fatma Girik, the first broken leaf of the four-leaf clover

Fatma Girik

And Fatma Girik also passed away (age 80). Her death was perhaps the material indication that Yesilcam (traditional Turkish Cinema), productions of which have still nostalgic value as commodities in Turkey, is now history. Girik, together with Türkan Şoray, Filiz Akın and Hülya Koçyiğit, had been one of the four big female stars of Yesilcam since the 60s; over the years they began to be known as “Four Leaf Clover”, gained great iconographic value after their active cinema period ended. They became “stars” even in the eyes of the generation born years after they made their latest films, and they were constantly in the media. With Girik’s death, a leaf of the four-leaf clover has broken off and the magic has been broken.

Girik was called the “girl with the emerald eyes” of the cinema, and she was called “the Liz Taylor of Yesilçam” due to her beautiful eyes even though her character and style did not resemble her at all. She was born in a suburb of Istanbul to a very poor family, the first daughter of an underwater diver and a housewife mother. They were one of four families sharing a four-room old house.

Due to the underwater diver father’s being able to find a job at long intervals, the mother went to film sets from time to time through a neighbor who worked as a worker in a newspaper and went to sets as an extra on her free days, and the family got enough, at least taking it one day at a time. They did not even have water in their house, they carried water from the street fountain in buckets for drinking and cleaning. While going to middle school without being able to buy a notebook or pen due to poverty, one of the neighbors, with whom they shared the rooms of the same house said “Fatma has grown, you will get a few cents more if she works as an extra as well”. Her mother strongly opposed the proposal at first, “Fatma will have education and save her life,” she says. But they were so broke that they had to accept it. Thus, Fatma Girik became an extra for the first time in “Günahkar Baba/Sinner Father” (1955) directed by Arşavir Alyanak and her education life ended at the age of 13. In fact, although she was unaware of it at the time, in the melodrama Girik was seen glancingly, saw Memduh Ün, who was the co-producer of the film and did not made his debut as a director yet and with whom she was going to spend 62 years of her life, and his lover at that time, Muhterem Nur, leading actor of the movie, one of the two female stars of Yesilcam at that time. She had no dreams of being a star or something, her only concern was to earn three cents and contribute to the livelihood of the family living on the border of hunger. She gave her first day’s wage to her mother as it was.

But even being an extra didn’t start easy for Girik. Since they did not even have money for public transportation, she and her mother went to the sets on long walks. The second film she went to as an extra was Atıf Yılmaz‘s “Beş Hasta Var/There Are Five Patients”, one of the most important directors of Turkish cinema. Girik was going to appear as one of the b-girls in a night club. But Atıf Yılmaz, who came to the set, started to shout, “I wanted a beautiful, decent girl from you. You brought me a child who have more chins than a chinese phone book”. Girik had to walk all the way back home without getting her daily wage. Feridun Karakaya, a comedian who was trying to make a place in Yesilcam at that time, and was going to make serial films of a type that would last for years, but who made his real fame in the theater, was working as a make-up artist in films. He gave Girik a makeover and took her to Osman Seden, one of the famous producers and directors of the time. The answer was “This girl will not be anything, Feridun, don’t waste your time”. Years later, in interviews, she told how much this upset her. She abandoned her dreams of becoming an actor, believing that she would remain an extra and pursuing the few cents she would earn.

Once again, she narrowly escaped being fired from the set by Ün. In 1957, she went as an extra in the movie “Bir Serseri/A Tramp”, a free adaptation of Blue Angel. She would appear again in a night club scene as the girl sitting in an American bar. The director of the film was Nejat Saydam, but its co-producer was Un. When Ün came to inspect the set, he said, “Her dress is too white, no way, find a beautiful girl and bring her to sit here”.

Acting in the role of Marlene Dietrich in the movie, Neriman Köksal, one of the longest active actors in Turkish cinema, a pin-up of the era but a very domestic woman in real life, stood out. She said, “Memduh, honey, don’t worry, I’ll make her beautiful now.” She took off her own shawl, put it on Girik’s shoulders, covered the whiteness of the dress, then took off her cosmetics and put make-up on Girik. Thus, Girik escaped from being fired once again and avoided walking back to  home pennilessly. Years later, Girik said in an interview, “Neriman was such a sweet woman, she was very helpful. When I looked in the mirror, I felt like a little bitch.”

This movie would be the last movie for Girik to act as an extra. Because Talat Artemel, the famous actor of Istanbul Municipality Theatre, the ex-husband of Cahide Sonku, the “legendary woman” of Turkish theater and cinema, who acted in the leading role opposite Koksal in the movie, liked Girik very much and wanted to marry her and appealed to her family to get their permission. At that time Artemel was 56, Girik was 15 years old, that is exactly 41 years older than Girik. Her family did not accept it, and her mother did not allow her to go to the movie sets after that incident.

But in the same year, Ahmet Tarık Tekce, the most famous character actor of Yesilcam, for whom rhymes were produced with the words “Kitapsız ilim, Ahmet Tarık’sız film olmaz/There cannot be no science without book, no movie without Ahmet Tarik”, came to their house. Girik was going to be given a leading role. The movie was a low-budget movie, and Girik was going to get the lowest amount paid to the lead actors at that time, but this “low money” was a big amount of money the family had never seen before.

She gave the money she received to her mother, told her to buy her a blue blouse, cutlets and bananas. That night, the family ate as many cutlets as they wanted and Girik tasted banana for the first time in her life. Her first movie “Leke/Stain” was a rural movie and Girik played an innocent country girl who was slandered. The movie also had an erotic scene for that period, in which she entered the river and her thin clothes clung to her body, at the age of 15. Opposite her was Talat Gözbak, 24 years older than herself, who acted in the leading roles with his Clark Gable mustache at that time, and who would later be remembered as the main character actor.

She cannot draw attention with this first film, and then with 15 low-budget films in which she acted in the lead role in some and as the second girl in general. A few of these films were comedies, and the majority were rural melodramas. She acted in the roles of abused innocent village girl. For this reason, it was written that she was in a line imitating Muhterem Nur, who became a big star with her roles as a loser and innocent girl who was abused in rural melodramas at that time, but she was not as loser as Nur in her roles, but rather in the line of Nevin Aypar, who was also famous for rural films.

Memduh Ün started the cinema as a young leading actor, then moved on to the production and directorship. In an interview, Girik said, “He was more handsome than the movie stars. Like all the girls on set, I liked him, too, but he was a big guy, I was a little girl, it hadn’t even crossed my mind. Memduh wasn’t even aware of me anyway.” Un noticed Girik first in the movie “Leke/Stain”; he was shooting another movie in the same land, and when the shootings were over, the cast and crew of the two movies came together. In fact, Un, a married man with two children, was in a period when he was in bed terms with his long-term lover Muhterem Nur with whom he was in on again off again relationship. During the filming, he briefly flirted with Girik, who was 22 years younger than him, but after the shooting, he reconciled with Nur and returned to her. That’s why Girik entered Nur’s blacklist of three actors. Nur, like Girik, came from a very poor background, moreover, she had no parents, she was raped as a child, she worked as a janitor in film companies and a b-girl in night clubs. She also started as an extra in cinema. She became one of the two biggest female stars of the 50s with her extraordinary profile, photogenicity and natural talent. She had no education. She was always abused -especially economically- and subjected to violence by the men who came into her life. While Yesilcam was forming the star system in the 60s, despite her beauty and talent, she fell into decline because she could not manage stardom, and could not be included in the star system. Then she fell even more… Anyway, one day I’ll write a portrait of Muhterem Nur and tell about her.

Girik first attracted attention in 1960 in the movie “Ölüm Peşimizde/Death Pursuit”, directed by Ün and starred opposite Ayhan Işık, the biggest star of the era. She had a very sad memory that she never forgot from the set of this movie. On the set, Lütfi Akad, the first great director of Turkish Cinema, asked Ün, “Why are you interested in this untalented girl?” Un replied, “There is a light in her, and one day it will emerge.”

After that, Un became Girik’s mentor and determined her cinema policy. After a while, they started living together. The Un-Girik relationship was one of the pygmalion stories that had many examples in Yesicam. Un educated Girik, who had not had much education, taught her cinema, and always prepared projects that would increase and shine her stardom.

Girik entered the 60s, the first years of the star system, as the second female star after Belgin Doruk, the biggest female star of the period, although not very talented. (Girik, when she could not draw attention yet, also acted in the second woman in a movie in which Belgin Doruk acted in the leading role) While Doruk started to age, and Girik was expected to be the number one female star, Türkan Şoray made a big breakthrough and Girik became the second female star again.

A few years later, when Hülya Koçyiğit was placed at number two after Şoray with the great support of Erman Film and its adaptations of market romance novels, Girik became the number third female star of Yesilcam. The facts that Metin Erksan‘s Susuz Yaz/Waterless Summer, was the first Turkish film to win an award abroad (Berlin Film Festival) and it was widely covered in the press for a long time also played a significant role in Kocyiğit’s debut. The role in this movie was first offered to Şoray, and when she refused, Filiz Akın was offered the role. When both stars refused because the shooting was outside of Istanbul, Erksan looked for a “no name” actor. After long hesitations, he gave the role to Kocyigit, a 16-year-old conservatory student. During the 60’s, Soray, Kocyigit and Girik were referred to as the “big three” of Yesilçam, followed by Filiz Akın as the fourth. Akin entered the cinema with a serious advertising campaign as an educated, western and Turkish cinema’s first blonde star candidate. But producer-director Turker Inanoglu, whom she had married in her first years in her cinema career, did not try to make her a star like the men behind the other three female stars. Akin only acted in ready-made roles in her husband’s films and fell behind the other three when she became an unpaid “officer actor” of Erler Film, but continued to stay on the agenda with magazines, postcards, posters, etc. Only as Akın enters the 70s, when she began to resist Inanoglu’s domination, she caught the other three and became one of the “Big Four” or one leaf of “Four Leaf Clover”. In fact, Inanoglu divorced shortly Akin, who rebelled against his hegemony.

When I was a kid, these four female stars used to have fans in middle-class homes, like football club fans, and they would be the subject of small talks  during family visits. My father always said “the strongest actor among them is Fatma Girik”, I always thought that he said it because he liked her acting performance more. Years later, while watching a Fatma Girik movie on TV together, when he said “the strongest actor of all is Fatma Girik” in a scene where Girik was carrying the male actor on her back, I realized that he always said this phrase in the scenes where Girik was carrying the male actor, and I started laughing. Traditional Turkish cinema was not an acting cinema, and what Turkish cinema audience understood about acting was very different from what theater audiences understood.

Especially in rural movies, Girik used to carry the male actor, who was injured or sick as a result of the story, all around on mountain ridges. In our house, my sister was a fan of Şoray, I was a fan of Akın, and of course my father was a fan of Girik. My mother had no particular interest in the four of them, but Akın was one step ahead for her because of her interest in Westernism, “ladyness” and “dressing stylishly”. Rarely, apart from these four women, there would be spoilers who were the fans of other female movie stars, but it was like being a fan of a team other than Fenerbahçe, Galatasaray, Beşiktaş and Trabzonspor, the four well-established soccer clubs that have always exchanged championships among themselves for years. Other actresses would not be able to catch the four of them in fame, nor would their lives in cinema last as long as them, they would disappear after a few years, and even if they stayed in the movie industry, they would have lost their popularity.

Girik, whom Akad called “the incompetent girl”, was recognized as the “best actress” in the quartet for years, received the most awards at festivals and acted  in the most important movies in the history of Turkish cinema. Girik had no training in acting, she was self-educated, and developed over time with her talent, intuition, and Ün’s guidance. At that time, what the female stars of traditional Turkish films perceived from acting was to create a picture personality that would be adopted by a large audience and to appear in their best form in the film. It was their faces, not their performances, that had meta value. For this reason, in the movies, they would wake up in false eyelashes, with pure make-up, or they would come out of the sea with false eyelashes, pure make-up, and dressed hair. They were in a race to see who would dress the most stylishly and who would look the most beautiful in the movies. While creating their picture personalities, they acted within the general moral values of the society and never played negative characters. Great female stars never stripped, made love, or kissed in the movies. After holding hands, they would have children.

At this point, Fatma Girik would be separated from the other three and other category A star candidates or starlets. Others occasionally acted in urban sentimental comedies, often in urban melodramas, not appearing in front of the camera as rural characters in rural stories. Rural female characters were left to category B stars. On the contrary, Girik would act in more realistic films, often appearing in front of the camera as a rural character. She was also good at melodramas and sentimental comedies, but she was particularly a star with rural characters. She didn’t have strict rules like the others. For her picture personality, she wouldn’t mind undressing if the role required (like bathing naked in a basin in “Altınsehir/Golden City -1965-“, which was a story of migration from a village to a city) or taking part in striptease scenes that others would never accept (see “Ben Bir Sokak Kadınıyım/I’m a Street Woman, 1966”). While the others would never go on camera without make-up, she would go often, wearing very little big silk false eyelashes that the others never took off in front of the camera. She never hesitated to become ugly because of her role. For example, she acted in a hunchbacked fisherman girl happily in “Kambur/Hunchbacked 1973”, when Kocyigit said that her audience would not accept her as a hunchback and refused the role when the story that she wanted changed was not changed.

Others also appeared in front of the camera as ugly girls in some movies, but their ugliness was always in a very short few scenes at the beginning of the movie, with an exaggerated make-up that was tried to be unconvincing, and they would immediately return to the full make-up beauty of their picture personalities as if a magic wand had touched them. Still, they used to have photographic news made in newspapers and magazines such as “Türkan Şoray got ugly for this movie” or “Filiz Akın got ugly for that movie” so that the audience wouldn’t think their ugliness was real. Girik had no such problems. And unlike the others, she did not hesitate to act in front of the camera with the roles of old women; In many films, she appeared before the camera as the mother of male actors her age and even older than her. She said in an interview about her playing lower-class female characters better than others in more realistic films, “I came from really poor, I know that life, it gets better when I do the things I know realistically.”

Among 180-something films of Girik, there are many movies that took places in Turkish movie history starting from “Ölüm Peşimizde/Death Pursuit”, “Seviştiğimiz Günler/The Days We Made Love”, “Avare Mustafa/Idle Mustafa”, “Bire On Vardı/It was Ten to One”, “Namusum İçin/For My Honor”, “Keşanlı Ali Destanı/The Epic of Keşanli Ali”, “Yıldız Tepe/Star Peak”, “Zilli Nazife/ Shrewish Nazife”, “Yaprak Dokumu/Leaffall”, “Dolmuş Soförü/Dolmuş Driver”, “Öksüz/Orphan”, “Köroğlu”, “Ezo Gelin/Bride Ezo”, “Vatan ve Namık Kemal/Homeland and Namık Kemal”, “Boş Beşik/Empty Cradle”, “Kara Peçe/Black Veil”, “Yarın Son Gündür/Tomorrow is the Last Day”, “Acı/Pain”, “Namus/Honor”, “Toprak Ana/Mother Earth”, “Kızgın Toprak/Angry Earth”, “Kambur/Hunchbacked”, “Kuma/Co-Wife”, “Intikam Meleği/Angel of Vengeance”, “Ağrı Dağı Efsanesi/Legend of Mount Ararat”, “Yaşam Kavgası/Struggle for Life”, “Gülsüm Ana/Mother Gülsüm”, “Kaçak/Fugitive”, “Yılanların Öcü/Vengeance of the Snakes”.

Fatma Girik

While the other three started to focus on their acting performances only after the 70s and switched to realistic characters after the 80s, she always made commercial films on the one hand and acted as realistic characters on the other. While others worked with popular directors in melodramas and sentimental comedies, she also worked with more cinematographically important directors at least a few times each year.

She worked only once with Lütfi Akad, who called her “a untalented girl” and was considered the greatest director of Turkish Cinema before Yılmaz Güney (for me that is Metin Erksan), and in a market, not significant film, which was rare in Akad’s filmography, “Mahşere Kadar/Until Armageddon, 1971”. Moreover, Akad left the film unfinished, and another director completed it.

I do not know if Master Akad did not give Girik a role in his prime films even though she won many awards and proved herself many times in order not to eat his words or if Girik couldn’t get over her anger and didn’t want to work with him. Apart from her prime films, Girik also gave interesting performances in market films from time to time. For example, “Beş Seker Kız/Five Candy Girls, 1964” in which she acted in the role of a revue girl; “Sürtüğün Kızı/Bitch’s Daughter, 1967” in which she performed two roles as a mother and her daughter; “Nefret/Hate, 1984”, remake of Joan Crawford’s Mildred Pierce, and created a lofty melodrama character forty years later; “Japon İşi/Made in Japan, 1987” in which she acted as a robot; “Gün Ortasında Karanlık/Dark at Midday, 1991” where she shaved her head as a doctor who gradually went mad after losing her disabled son. She also acted as the female Hamlet in Erksan’s Shakespeare adaptation “Intikam Meleği/Angel of Vengeance”.

After the so-called “importance of theater actors” period, the main actors in traditional Turkish Cinema were the ones who won the cover king/queen competitions organized by the magazines or started with small roles in the films and rose to prominence without receiving an acting education. Actors with acting education were given supporting roles in Yesilçam. In the memoirs of many actors who made their debut with Fatma Girik, it is written how much Girik helped them in their first films. Girik is always described as a helpful and natural person in the memoirs of male actors who acted in the leading roles with her or female or male actors who acted in supporting roles in her films. I found only one memory contrary to hundreds of written memoirs. Late Hulya Tuğlu, who acted in a supporting role in the 1973 movie “Ekmekçi Kadin/Female Bread Maker”, claimed that Girik was jealous of her, that she was constantly causing difficulties on the set and that she had some scenes taken out of the movie. Yilmaz Guney also explained that Girik was very straight forward, very natural and free from the complexes and whims of other Yesilcam female stars. He made a phallocentric analogy to praise her and said, “Fatma is a girl like a man. She does whatever the role requires. She is a man of her word”.

Girik did not have “I act with this, I don’t act with that” conditions like other stars. However, the fact that she was in bad terms with Un and starred in some B category films during the short periods when she was deprived of his mentorship also made her lose momentum in the race for stardom from time to time. Contrary to other stars, she would not be uneasy about going in front of the camera with younger female stars, and would not cause any problems in this regard. She appeared before the camera in 1963 with Soray in “Badem Şekeri/ Almond Candy”, who had just started her debut. With Semra Sar in “Tophaneli Osman/Osman from Tophane, 1964”, with Ajda Pekkan in “Öpüşmek Yasak/ Kissing Forbidden, 1964”, with the most famous pin-ups of the era Leyla Sayar and Selma Güneri, in “Beş Şeker Kız/Five Sugar Girls, 1964”, with the big star of the theater Ayla Algan in “Yıldız Tepe/Star Peak, 1965” and “Zilli Nazife/ Shrewish Nazife, 1967”, with Belgin Doruk, the biggest star of the period in “Allahaısmarladık Yavrum/Godbye My Baby, 1966”, with Semiramis Pekkan in “Yaprak Dökümü/Leaf Cast, 1967”, with Eva Bender in “Kız Kolunda Damga Var/Hey Girl There is a Stamp on Your Arm, 1967”, with Esen Püsküllü in “Kafkas Kartalı/The Caucasian Eagle, 1968”, with Perihan Savaş in “Namus/Honor, 1973”, with Mine Mutlu in “Talihsiz Yavrum/My Unlucky Child, 1974”, with Gülşen Bubikoğlu in “Ölmeyen Şarkı/Undying Song, 1977”, with Hülya Avşar in “Nefret/Hate,1984”, with Serpil Çakmaklı and Nur Sürer in “Yılanların Öcü/Avenge of the Snakes, 1985”, and so on… With the emergence of television in the second half of the 70s and the rise of the political violence in the streets, the women who made up the majority of the movie audience retreated to their homes. Sex movies that appealed only to male audiences started to be shown in movie theaters. In this period, Girik continued to fight by starring with arabesque singers such as Orhan Gencebay and comedians such as Kemal Sunal, whom the other stars did not prefer to act with, instead of reducing the number of films or withdrawing from the market like other stars.

One of the biggest charms of Yeşilçam female stars were their long well-groomed hair, and they did not want to cut their hair for their roles. But Girik, in “Belalı Torun/Trouble Grand Child, 1962”, she had a short haircut and appeared as a male. After that, she was nicknamed “Male Fato” despite her beautiful chubby tits. Although its beginning was with this film, the fact that she was a combative, candid, brave, patriarchal “woman like man” in her personal life and in her picture personality played a role in the establishment of this nickname. She often performed in such roles in the cinema, and even made a movie called “Erkek Fatma/Tomboy, 1969”. In the cinema, another nickname of her was “People’s Girl” emphasizing her difference from other stars.

I first saw Fatma Girik on the street for the first time when I was 17, while working for another company in her own office building named “Fatma Girik Office Building”. She was probably at a break between sets, in her flip-flops, walking down the street with a group of set workers, talking about horse races in a very friendly, slang language. I was very surprised as I never expected to see a star like her in a public space. However, it was probably this naturalness that earned her the nickname “People’s Girl”.

She was a movie actor but did not resist the astronomical money offered in 1968 and appeared on the gazino stages as a singer. (Gazinos were entertainment venues where fancy food and drinks were served, unique to Turkey, starring a Classical Turkish Music singer, and a variety show consisting of 5-6 singers from various genres of popular music, a showman and a belly dancer). For a long time, it was fashionable to transfer the actors whom the audience loved from the movies, to the gazinos by paying the wages they earned from a movie as two or three days’ earnings. Most of these movie actors couldn’t sing, and when the audience’s curiosity to see them live for the first time was satisfied, they had to leave the gazinos after a few programs or they would continue as overtures with lower pays. At the peak of her fame, Girik was the first major female star to be transferred to gazinos. She did not act as a singer on the stage, on the contrary, she directly told the audience “I don’t have a beautiful voice, I don’t know maqam-method”, but she was natural, entered into an interactive dialog with the audience and answered their questions about the movie star Fatma Girik, told a few memories, a couple of jokes, talked, danced a little and sang a few songs. Especially when she first appeared on the stage, she had the gazinos she worked for do a great job.

Girik did not enter into the struggle of “my name will be written this big in the advertisements, my photo will be printed this big”, like the movie stars who were transferred to the gazino stages later on. She didn’t take non-stop music lessons because she was going to be a singer. She did not have a problem that “I would go on stage at this time or stay on stage for this long”. She put importance at the money she was given, she didn’t care if her name was written in the fourth or fifth place in the gazino advertisement, or if her photo was used small. Whatever God gave, she arrived at the gazino at the time it was said to her, stayed on the stage for as long as it was wanted with all her naturalness and sang a few songs and made jokes. But she worked for two or three months every year in big gazinos for nearly fifteen years. She made very good money. She had “Fatma Girik Business Center” built, kept film companies afloat during times of crisis, and became more selective in film choices with the economic freedom she gained from the gazinos. But she was always just a “movie actor”.

In an interview, she said “I opened my eyes with Mehduh”. Ün never divorced his wife who was the mother of his two children. Just like with Muhterem Nur, he did not share the same house with Fatma Girik at first, went back and forth, did not appear in public as her lover. Girik, who started to be with Ün at a young age and wanted to wear the wedding dress she wore many times in movies, in real life, made this an issue in the first years when she started to become a celebrity. She wanted to marry Ün but was getting rejected. That’s why their relationship continued, just like when he was with Nur, on again off again. Girik, like Nur, was obsessed with getting married. She got engaged to star soccer player Varol Ürkmez and star jazz drumist Durul Gence when they were parted. She had short flirtations also with actors Ediz Hun and İzzet Günay, also with film director Halit Refiğ. But she could never break away from Ün, for whom she said “I opened my eyes with him”. She always turned to him. Ün did not get divorced, did not break away from his children, never left the economic responsibility of his official wife, but after a while Un and Girik began to live together in the same house. They had a monogamous relationship for many years. Girik said in an interview, “If I was born again, I would fall in love with Memduh again, I would be in the cinema again, I would be the mayor again. When I go into a shop, I still ask myself whether Memduh would like me in this? Should I buy it? However, what happens if Memduh likes it, what if he doesn’t. After all, there is a 92-year-old man and a 69-year-old woman. What happens if you buy something else, right? But you still try to make him like you. Actually, this is not explained much, but it is lived.” said.

Uğur Ün, son of Memduh Ün, one of the best translators of Beckett, Genet and Pinter in Turkey, is a friend of mine. He worked for Un and Girik’s joint company Ugur Film for a long time. I never met Girik when I visited him at the company, but they were together very often. For all these years, I have not heard a single negative word about Girik, whom he referred to as “Fatma” from Uğur.

For a while, she made a weird reality show for a TV channel, where she combined her images of “Tomboy” and “People’s Girl”, ignored television rules, physically attacked harassers and scammers, spitted in their faces, and in one of the shows, broke her hip while jumping from a construction site. The show was weird but got high ratings.

She also took parts in TV series, and even made statements that she liked to work in TV series more than movies, that the movies ended immediately, but that she could spend more time with her friends in TV series. She repeatedly said that she wanted to act in a TV series produced by Ugur Yucel, but unfortunately this did not happen.

Girik also got involved in active politics for a while. In 1989, she was elected mayor of Sisli, one of the biggest districts of Istanbul, from the SHP (Social-Democratic Public Party). She remained as mayor until she lost in the 1994 elections. In an interview about that period, “There was a subject, I was calling the heads of departments, and asking ‘What is this?’ They were saying, ‘Madam, you know better.’ Finally I said, ‘What use are you if I know everything?’ “. Girik’s mayorship coincided with the unionization process of public workers. By signing the collective bargaining right of Municipality workers, she became the first mayor who made payment. Later, she was tried for this reason and it was demanded a three-year prison sentence for her. In her defense at the hearing, she said, “I believe and support the union struggle of public workers with strikes and collective bargaining. If I were the mayor again, I would sign it again. I used my duty in a good way, my conscience is clear.” Apart from the support she gave to freedom of association to labor during her mayorship, she gave red carnations to every municipal employees who would participate in the Sivas massacre protests and allowed them to participate in this action. In order to protect the workers detained in protest actions from enforced disappearance in custody, which was very common in Turkey at the time, she went around the police stations and tracked them all down one by one

For the last twenty years, she often met with Şoray, Akın and Koçyiğit. The public, who saw the fierce competition and duels between today’s stars in the media every day, found their behaviors like wrapping each other in cotton balls and gave compliments to each other, very sympathetic. All four of them were former stars whose individual iconographic values still had meta values, and although they rarely worked, they still received offers from movies, serials, TV shows and commercials. But these Four Leaf Clover attitudes of them shed light on the flea market, raising their iconographic value even more.

During the period they were active in the market, they could never act together due to the star system. In 2009, it was discussed that the four of them would play together for the first time in “Altın Kızlar/Golden Girls”, the Turkish remake of the NBC sitcom The Golden Girls, which lasted for 7 years. In the scenario adapted to Turkey, Şoray would be Rose performed by Betty White, Akın would be Blanche performed by Rue McClanahan, Koçyiğit would be Dorothy performed by Bea Arthur, and Girik would be Sophia, Dorothy’s mother, performed by Estelle Getty.

But when Akın’s health did not allow, who had a severe cancer treatment at that time, comedian Nevra Serezli acted in her role. Four Leaf Clover could not come together again and the series was not successful. Girik had explained the series’ failure with her usual frankness. “They placed us in a luxury villa. These are elderly women who had to live together because of their limited economic situation. They can only live in an old house with creaking stairs, since they cannot be prostitutes after this age, how do they pay the rent of that villa, how do they maintain that life? It was unrealistic. It wasn’t convincing either.”

Everyone will naturally die one day. Although they were treated like goddesses by the audience, the Four Leaf Clover is surely not immortal either. But they were our nostalgic bridge to the past in popular culture. With the death of Girik, who had suffered from serious illnesses in recent years, due to multi-organ failure due to COVID-19, when a leaf of the four-leaf clover is broken, it has been initialed that the last bridge connecting us to the past is being destroyed.

Let me tribute the fresh memory of the iconographic star, “Tomboy”, “People’s Girl” Girik, with the song “They Told Me Don’t Love, but I Loved” from Şükran Ay, which she said in many old interviews that she was her favorite singer.

* Late Şükran Ay was a class B Classical Turkish Music singer, but her repertoire consisted of more common songs called “market songs” rather than Classical Turkish Music songs. Ay wasn’t a star singer in the center, but she did sell records at record numbers in rural areas and suburbs.

Mehmet Atak’ın Sinematik Yeşilçam Facebook Grubu‘ndaki 26 Ocak tarihli iletisinden

Yayına hazırlayan : Sabahattin Bilgiç – Ocak 2022

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